Black Worm Culture
|California Blackworm Factoids|
|Food||Trout wastes or commercial foods|
|Longevity||Lives for months in fridge|
|Longevity in aquarium||Burrows into substrate and colonizes|
|Biggest Threats||Overcrowding, warm or too deep water|
Introduction: Back in the old days (before flake, frozen, and freeze-dried foods), dedicated hobbyists fed their fish live foods. Frankly, the commercial foods back then ranged from crummy to crappy. They polluted the water, spoiled easily, and failed the piscatorial taste test. Fish did not like them. If anyone wanted to breed fishes, the commercial foods were worthless. We’re talking way back before California blackworms were invented.
Comments: Breeders and dedicated hobbyists grew their own foods. Many even made their own foods. What a mess. You’d find fish keepers in their big boots netting mosquito larvae, daphnia and other taste-tempting treats for their fishes. Or growing their own in their basements. Few hobbyists these days care to emulate Jeff Corwin in the wilderness or run a worm ranch. They just shake a flake or thaw out another brine shrimp on the barbie.
Live Foods Taste Better: Still, fishes love live foods. They like foods they can wrestle with. Some fishes will only eat live or frozen foods. No question but what bettas prefer live foods. Breeders just gotta munch wiggling blackworms even when they’re already full.
Tubifex — the Other Red Meat: Tubifex worms come from less than desirable neighborhoods. They come from sewage lagoons and run off from animal confinement areas — not fun places to be mucking about. Actually, they help clean the nasty water. Still, we prefer our tubies from the freezer or in the freeze-dried form. And it’s not tubiFlex worms. That was a food in a tube that disappeared decades ago — even before Mr. Peabody invented the Wayback Machine. Still, the name lives on.
Iowa Tubifex Worms: You betcha you can find tubifex worms in Iowa. You just don’t want to put your hands in that water. There used to be worm men that harvested and sold these critters. We had only moderate success keeping them alive. And dead tubifex worms really reek. We succeed much better with the blackworms.
Blackworms: Originally from trout farms (very cold water), they now come from ponds specially made for blackworms.
The New Ponds. Cool, aerated, flowing water does the trick. They feed them “specially formulated high protein pellet food.” (Sounds like Purina’s Trout Chow to LA.) Put one of these blackworm ponds in your backyard. You’ll save on shipping costs. They store their worms at 45o until they ship. Nice set up.
Smaller Scale: Worm Keepers make a huge difference. Each holds a half pound of worms. They need frequent rinsings to wash out the debris that accumulates — like in the top right hand corner. About 1/4 inch of water over the worms works best. The worms sit on top a fine mesh nylon screen that lets their waste fall thru. When you rinse them, you get a reddish effluent. Smaller portions live just fine in an uncovered Glad plastic storage container. Not everyone wants these in their fridge.
Worm Prep: Before plopping your worms in your fridge, rinse out the debris. Those fine meshed white nets work quite well. If you use the green nets, you’ll see them slip sliding away. Any dead worms in their container will eat up their oxygen and accelerate their early death. Spread them out. Layers of worms deeper than 1/4 inch live shorter lives.
Cloudy Water: If your worm water clouds up, rinse your worms again.
Worm Feeders: Invest a couple bucks in a worm feeder. These usually conical worm feeders slow the descent of your worms to the bottom of your tank. Fishes can eat a higher percentage before they disappear into the substrate to become corydoras food at a later date.
Leeches: Those white leeches you find in your Blackworms are harmless plant leeches. They’re just a nuisance. They usually die in a few days. If you feed them to cichlids, your cichlids will take care of them.
Last Word: It took us a few years to “work out the bugs,” but we think this info will keep your blackworms with out issue.